Trucker Diablo are four friends in love with the rock n’ roll dream. They love the shows, they wear the clothes, they have tattoos and, no doubt, the bad livers to boot. Hard rocking is their game, and they play by the rules, like it’s the only game in town.
Their second album “Songs of Iron” begins with ‘Red Light On’. It’s punchy, raucous but trad hard rock, only notable really as it pinches a bit of lyric and melody of Bon Jovi‘s ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’. It’s a sly nod and a wink to the discerning rock listener. It’s saying that Trucker Diablo are just having a bit of laugh, but that they know their rock onions.
A lot of the tracks are like tributes to the giants of the genre – ‘Streets Run Red’ revs up like Mötley Crüe then goes right for your pink, bubblegum heart with a Cheap Trick melodic attack, married to gorgeous backing vocals.
Black Stone Cherry are also a common touchstone (a band I believe they’ve supported). ‘When’s It Gonna Rain’ and ‘Shame on You’ are the best of this bunch, damn fine a pieces of catchy but dirty rock n’roll, neither of which would have been out of place on “Between the Devil & The Deep Blue Sea”. And when I say they are the best of the bunch, I really mean it, as a lot of the material here is either too bland or too blatant a rip off of its peers. I’m asking where Trucker Diablo are in all this lovingly crafted artifice? It’s like they said – ‘Let’s do a Cheap Trick style song…now let’s do a Black Stone Cherry number!” And then… ‘Hey, lets do a Journey tribute!’
They are not any more successful when they try to create their own identity – ‘Year of the Truck’ is an attempt at self-mythologizing. It’s too hackneyed to be anything other than endearingly delusional. Then there’s lighters-in-the- air ballad ‘Maybe You’re The One’, which borders on Nickleback territory. Not somewhere I want to go. These are minor crimes however, compared to ‘I Wanna Party With You’ – a baffling stab at whiny US pop punk and is so irritating I cannot listen to it a second time.
I realise I may be being a tad harsh here, but Trucker Diablo just rub me up the wrong way. I think I kind of know why. You’ll notice that ALL the bands I see as influences are american?! Well Trucker Diablo are from Derry, Northern Ireland. Like I say, it all seems artificial, beautifully crafted and played but well, fake. It’s not Japanese country and western, but it’s not believably real when they sing about Trans Am’s and the ‘Highway Radio’.
There are fourteen tracks here and it feels like it. It overstays it’s welcome to the point where after about eight I want to turn it off. Which I now will…